# [Taxacom] Random taxonomy

John Noyes j.noyes at nhm.ac.uk
Fri Nov 29 09:47:19 CST 2013

Hi Knut,

A kinotty and interesting problem. I am sure a statistician would be able to provide the correct anser, but my feeling is that  you have a virtually nil chance of putting the correct name any box. If the labels are completely randomly mixed and each label is represented by a limitless supply (i.e. infinity)) then the chances of you putting the correct label on any box must be infinity:1 which is as close to zero as you can get.

John

John Noyes
Scientific Associate
Department of Life Sciences
Natural History Museum
South Kensington
London SW7 5BD
UK
jsn at nhm.ac.uk
Tel.: +44 (0) 207 942 5594
Fax.: +44 (0) 207 942 5229

Universal Chalcidoidea Database (everything you wanted to know about chalcidoids and more):
www.nhm.ac.uk/chalcidoids

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Knut Rognes
Sent: 29 November 2013 10:24
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: [Taxacom] Random taxonomy

Dear Taxacomers,

I have a statistical problem.

Consider 50 black boxes, within each is a specimen of fly. Each fly has been identified by someone, its name written on the inside of the box, but this is invisible to you. You cannot peek inside. Each fly belong to one of 50 possible species.

You have at your disposal the 50 possible species names for these flies, each name printed on an adhesive label, the supply of printed labels for each name is limitless.

Here is the game: you affix a random label on the outside of a random box.

Now the problem: What is the likelihood that you put a correct label on the box, i.e. that the name on the label matches the identity of the fly within?

Knut Rognes

Oslo, Norway

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